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Full text of "Mathura A District Memoir"

3$0                                    ETYMOLOGY OF LOCAL NAMES.
laws. And thus, neither from the intrinsic evidence of indigenous literature,
nor from the facts recorded by history 3 is it permissible to infer tbe simultaneous
existence in the country of an alien-speaking race at any period^ to which it is
reasonable to refer the foundation of places that still bear a distinctive name?
prior to the Mohammadan invasion. The existence of such a race is simply
assamed by those who find it convenient to represent as non-Aryan any forma-
tion wMch their acquaintance with unwritten Aryan speech in its growth and
decay is too superficial to enable them at once to identify.
As local etymology is a subject which can only be investigated on the spqty
and therefore lies beyond the range of European scholars, its study is necessarily
affeeted by the prejudices peculiar to Anglo-Indian officials, who are so accus-
tomed to communicate with their snbordinates only through the medium of
Urdii that most of them regard that lingua franca as being really what it is call-
ed in official parlance^ the vernacular of the country. This familiarity with the
speech of the smaE Muhammadan section of the community, rather than with
that of the Hindu masses, causes attention to be mainly directed to the study of
Persian and Arabie? which are considered proper to the country, while Sanskrit
is thought to be utterly dead^ of no interest save to professional scholars and of
no more practical import in determining the value of current phrases than
Greek or Hebrew,
The prejudice is to "be regretted, as it frequently leads writers, even in file
"best informed London periodicals, to speak of India as if it were a purely
Mntamniadaii country, and to urge upon the Government, as highly conciliatory,
measures which—if taken—would most effectually alienate the sympathies of
the vast majority.
Neither Urdii, Persian, nor Arabic^ is of much service in tracing the
derivation of local names5 and it is hastily concluded iihat words which are
unintelligible when referred to those recognized sources must therefore be non-
Indian, and may with as much probability be traced up to one foreign language
as another. Any distortion of the name of a town or village which makes it
l>ear some resemblance to a Persian or Arabic root, is ordinarily accepted as a
plausible explanation; thus Khanpur is substituted for Kanhpur, and GMzipur
for GMMpnrj, Gadhls the father of Visvamitra, being a character not very
widely known ; while on the otter hand a derivation from the Sanskrit by the
application of well-established but less popularly known phonetic and gramma-
tical laws, is stigmatized as pedantic and honestly considered to be more far-
a derivation from £he Basque or the Lithuanian.